Bakuman 5

Mashiro and Akito work long hours during the summer break and make some steady progress. In fact, more than some: they complete a manuscript by episode’s end and are on the phone to submit it to a magazine for publishing. For a 25-episode series, this is faster progress than I expected.

Meanwhile, Akito learns he may be on the ‘same wavelength’ as his female friend Kaya, in the same way Mashiro and Miho are locked in. I’m still concerned that Mashiro could fall into the same trap as his uncle and let the girl slip through his fingers through inaction, so I maintain my hope they interact more.

There were also nice little touches, like the screentone clippings, the perils of drawing in ink while extremely fatigued, and the victorious feeling of completing a phase of a task and moving on to the next. Thus far, Bakuman has been steadfastly solid. Rating: 3.5

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 4

The battle from the previous episode continues, and it isn’t quite resolved by the end of this one. But despite the stormtrooper-esque weakness of the army of Catholic nuns, the battle stays pretty interesting throughout. Touma – someone who’s confident he was blessed with Imagine Breaker so he could to protect the weak – restarts the hostilities, this time, against the Catholics he worked with just earlier that evening.

Sister Agenes turns out to be a wolf in nun’s clothing, and spends a good amount of time very un-Christian-ly beating the shit out of Sister Orsula when Touma shows up, but before the 100s-against-one fight can begin, Steyr, Amakusa, and Index join in, in that order. Meanwhile, Kaori and the spy dude kinda watch all hell break from afar, as they have been doing.

As he’s not exactly inexperienced with situations like this, give credit to Touma for not backing down, and to Index for continuing into her vast bag of magical tricks to prove her mettle. The third member of the Index Trinity – the Railgun, still has yet to appear. When she does, it’ll be yet another layer of flavor to already thick, juicy steak of an anime that is right in its element. Stay the course. Rating: 3.5

MM! 5

Mio expressed it best: “What is this?” I’ll admit, there were a couple funny lines, but the rest of this episode was shark-jumping, pathetic excuse for shounen parody. I realize it wasn’t being serious, but in a series with only twelve episodes, why totally waste one on a totally bland, unrealistic new character and a story that makes no sense whatsoever?

Where before he had only two girls after him – Mio and Yuuno, we can thank this episode for adding another to the mix. What will it be, a girl a week now? Each one more boring than the next? This show needs to recover from this nonsensical disaster by quickly returning to what it does relatively well: romantic comedy between people with issues – Not half-assed genre-bending that goes nowhere. Rating: 2

Shinryaku! Ika Musume 2

Episode two builds on the solid comedy of the first not by repeating all the same jokes and situations, but by serving up a wealth of new ones – owing to the vast possibilities of a squid-out-of-water heroine. On the one hand, she has designs on “subduing” the entire human race, but she’s so clumsy and uninformed, it’s hard to take them seriously.

Concepts like beach lifeguards, birthdays, dogs, and cosplay-obsessed photographers are as foreign to her as having squid ink for spit is to humans. When she interacts with new people, reacts to new things, or even mispronounces new words, hilarity ensues. Ditto when the humans react to her quirks and abilities. Rating: 3.5

Shinryaku! Ika Musume – First Impressions

Let’s get this out of the way: yes, Squid Girl says squid a lot. But at least it’s in Japanese, and when she substitutes squid (or squidy, or squiding) for a cus word, it’s actually pretty funny and keeps the show PG.

Anyway, I’ve replaced Togainu no Chi in my watchlist with this much brighter, more upbeat series. It promises squid girl and it delivers. She has legitimate powers which could be a threat against humanity; at least until she threatens the younger sister and brother of the proprietor of a seaside cafe. She’s one of those characters who hardly ever opens her eyes, but when she does, look out.

As I said, this show is certainly lightweight, but I’ve always made room for such fare to balance out the more serious, deeper, darker. A good show needn’t be too complicated, and this isn’t. It’s cute, its to-the-point, and its lovingly made, with a bright, cheerful palate, smooth animation, and instantly charming characters. Shall I keep watching? Squid yeah. Rating: 3.5